London's Bridges On Film combines historic footage of the Thames, which (in two senses) spans nearly 125 years.
The British Film Institute's collection was launched on the occasion of the first phase of the Illuminated River art project, during which most London bridges are to be given a new lease of life at night.
The earliest film, Blackfriars Bridge (1896), lasts just over 30 seconds and is still a haunting clock. We see various horse-drawn vehicles and pedestrians walk across the bridge. An elderly gentleman looks back in surprise at the camera. A teenager strolls to the south bank without taking his eyes off his newspaper. Every single man, every single woman, every single boy and every single horse is long dead, but the bridge and the background buildings are still part of our London.
More recently, Sidewalk Surfing (1978) looks at Skate City Skatepark, which once stood near Tower Bridge. The footage opens and closes the London Bridge with some impressive, though reckless, skates.
The collection also contains complete documentation, such as a half-hour view of the reconstruction of the Grosvenor Railway Bridge (which connects Victoria with Battersea) in Railway Bridge Across the Thames (1968). Meanwhile, Rebuilding of London Bridge (1967) offers silent but intriguing footage of the demolition and renewal of this famous span.
Other highlights include Women & # 39; s Thames Swim (1921); Central London Street Scenes (1923), filmed for a Sherlock Holmes film; Opening of the New Lambeth Bridge (1932); River Thames Yesterday (1939), who took a last look at the Docklands in front of lightning; and South Bank (1973), a South Bank refurbishment report showing the construction of the National Theater and the NFT, the Hayward Gallery, and Queen Elizabeth Hall in the shadow of Waterloo Bridge.
Most, maybe all, of the films were previously seen on the BFI player, but this newly curated collection focuses on the theme.
As long as you're in the UK, you can now switch to the BFI's site and admire yesterday's bridges.
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